This morning, we’re concluding our sermon series called “A Powerful Force,” in which we’ve considered a biblical view of femininity. The goal of this series has been to interact with, interpret, and apply Scripture as it deals with femininity, but also to encourage our ladies and young ladies – to give them new or increased clarity, gratitude, and confidence when it comes to who you are as a woman and what you have been designed for.
These sermons have been building on one another, and we’ve had three sermons before today, so let me give a brief summary of where we’ve been in the Bible, and what we’ve found there – The main passages we’ve read and studied are Genesis 1 and 2, Proverbs 31, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Peter 1, and in those passages, here are a few things we’ve learned:
Number one – We’ve learned that a woman is a created image-bearer of God. In fact, men and women are both created image-bearers of God, and so they are equal; yet they are distinct. God has made men and women very different, each to function in accordance with the purpose of God’s unique design, and to complement one another.
Number two – When it comes to creation, we’ve learned that, (though this is not all a woman has been designed for), a woman has been built for help, for hard work, and for glory. She is the lovely one in the marriage. She is beauty and she beautifies, and she does this in a million different ways, consciously and subconsciously, constantly translating what she, or a couple, believes into something you can see, taste, and hear.
And then, number three, last week, we looked at biblical femininity and marriage, and I made seven points: A godly wife is precious and worthy of praise. A godly wife is something you must become. A godly wife is the glory of her husband. A godly wife is a help to her husband. A godly wife is in submission to her husband. A godly wife respects her husband. And finally, a godly wife manages her household well.
And remember, on our website, under resources, we have a sermon page, and there, you can find audio for all our sermons, as well as a copy of my sermon manuscript. That way you can go back and hear and read exactly what I said and then take it critically to the Bible.
And now this morning, in this final sermon of the series, our subject will be biblical femininity and motherhood. But before I preach this sermon, we should pray together. Please bow your heads with me.
If you haven’t already, please open your Bibles to 2 Timothy 1. If you’re using one of our church Bibles you’ll find that on page 645.
Susanna Wesley was born in 1669. She was the mother of 19 children, though 9 of them died as infants. Her two most well known children are John and Charles Wesley, the great hymn writers, and John, the founder of Methodism. It’s safe to say the impact she had on her children, and has now had on the world, is inestimable. She was a woman who decided to invest herself, fully, to the calling and task of motherhood. When she was older, looking back, she had this to say:
“No one can, without renouncing the world, in the most literal sense, observe my method; and there are few, if any, that would entirely devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hopes to save the souls of their children, which they think may be saved without so much ado; for that was my principal intention, however unskillfully and unsuccessfully managed.”
For Susanna Wesley, motherhood was a high calling and a privilege, and if nothing else, I hope by the end of this you will feel the same way. This morning’s sermon can be summarized in the following statement: Christian motherhood is the high calling and privilege of raising children, who are created by God, and entrusted to parents as gracious gifts, whereby a mother gives herself up for the glory of God and the eternal good of her children.
This statement is the result of a lot of Bible study, and so that Bible study is what we’re going to do this morning. Let me take you where I’ve been in God’s Word. We’ll work under two headings. Our first heading will be “a biblical view of children” and our second heading will be “a biblical view of motherhood.”
A biblical view of children
Our understanding of motherhood is built on our understanding of children. If we value children we’ll value motherhood. If we don’t value children we won’t value motherhood. And vice versa.
How does God view children? Let’s look at six verses. Of course, these aren’t all the verses in the Bible about children, but they are enough to get us a biblical view of children.
Genesis 1:28 says “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” Children are part of God’s plan – We are called to have children; fruitful children.
Psalms 139:13 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Children, ultimately, are created and formed by God.
Psalms 113:9 says “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”
And John 16:21 says “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” Children are a source of great joy and satisfaction
Genesis 33:5 says “And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”
And then Psalms 127:3-5 says “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! ” Children are a gracious gift (Gen 33:5) from God – They are a “heritage” (Ps 127:3), a “reward” (v3), and a “blessing” (V5).
So, this is the biblical view of children; this is God’s view of children; or a better way of saying it, because it’s not as if God’s view is competing with other views; this is who children are: Children are created by God and are entrusted to parents as gracious gifts.
This is not the world’s view of children. Wherever Christianity shrinks, this view of children shrinks. Many today don’t believe children are from God, or they ignore the implications of that.
Dorothy Patterson, in her chapter in “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” says: “we have cast aside the greatest blessing of the Creator, the fruit of the womb.”… “Children are not things to be acquired, used according to time and schedule, showcased for personal satisfaction, and then put aside for personal ambition and convenience.” But that’s exactly what many believe today. Children are seen as some sort of optional, life-enhancing add-on, with no inherent value. And of course nowhere is this made more clear than through the abortion industry, which asserts that a child has no value unless his or her mother assigns him or her value.
In this country, at the very beginning of a child’s life, when he or she is most vulnerable and powerless, a mother is led to believe that she has the prerogative to determine the value of her child, and if she decides the child will not add value to her life, she is free to murder her child if she wants to.
This reality of what abortion is is becoming scientifically inescapable, and many well-known abortionists and abortion activists are unashamedly conceding. I’ll quote from two:
Feminist Camille Paglia frankly admits, “abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue.”
Abortionist Warren Hern from Colorado writes, “We have reached a point in this particular technology [D&E abortion] where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.”
Even adoption has come under fire, as it often works against abortion. Adoption is an opposite to abortion. The assertion of abortion is “you are not wanted and will not be loved.” The battle cry of adoption is “you are wanted and will be loved.” Listen to what Alexander Sanger, grandson of Margaret Sanger, writes in his awful book, which I unfortunately purchased weeks ago to read a chapter for myself.
“Adoption is counterintuitive from an evolutionary vantage point of both the biological mother and the adoptive parents,” Sanger argues. “Adoption requires a person to devote time and resources to raising a child that is not genetically related. Adoption puts the future of a child in the control of a stranger.”
He goes on to argue that evolution and biology work against adoption. He says it is just easier for a woman to have an abortion, or for a family to refuse to think about adoption. He says evolution and biology (and I would say sin and sinners) “conspire to thwart adoption. Evolution has programmed women to be nurturers of the children they bear.” That’s why, he says, adoption “as the ‘solution’ to the abortion problem is a cruel hoax.” No, we would say – God has designed women to be nurturers of children, period.
This is a worldly wrong view of children. Again, children are created by God and are entrusted to parents as gracious gifts. Children are valuable and so motherhood is valuable. It’s not surprising; therefore, if we as a society get this view of children wrong, what follows is a wrong and devastating view of motherhood, which is what we have.
Many would not even say something like “the high calling of motherhood;” they would say something like “the unchallenging and unfulfilling option of motherhood.” For example, a woman withdrawing from the marketplace to raise her children is not typically even seen as fulfilling her primary obligation. In fact, it’s often seen as weakness or laziness.
Listen, our children are a miracle. Moms, whether you carried them in your womb or in your heart, they are a miracle.
A biblical view of motherhood
Here’s what we said at the beginning again: Christian motherhood is the high calling and privilege of raising children, who are created by God, and entrusted to parents as gracious gifts, whereby a mother gives herself up for the glory of God and the eternal good of her children.
Raising children? What does that mean? We could spend weeks talking about that. What is motherhood working toward? This is of course very important. If we look back to Genesis, Eve was to help Adam procreate, but not just procreate. They were not called to merely fill the earth, have babies. That was not the point. They were called to be fruitful. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”
Having children in your home that you mislead or neglect physically or spiritually is not fruitfulness, its bad stewardship. It’s not faithfulness, it’s faithlessness.
We see the same thing in Malachi 2:15a which says “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.”
And in Ephesians 6:4 which says: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” And there are many other verses we could read together.
The goal of motherhood is godly offspring. Motherhood is sacrificing popular and professional pursuits in order to give full devotion to the foundational work of nurturing immortal souls to Christ. Motherhood is a commitment to training and raising up the next generation. You’ve heard the expression when it comes to raising children “It takes a village?” No, it takes parents. It takes a mom.
This is culturally transformative work, with a vast scope. A mother has been entrusted with a child. A Christian mother has been entrusted with both a child and the gospel. Her chief aim is to sow one into the other. (1 Cor. 3:6).
In 2 Timothy 1:5 we read: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
Paul is writing to Timothy and, as he writes, he is reminded of Timothy’s “sincere faith.” Timothy’s faith is sincere; it’s not pretense. Timothy is not a nominal Christian. He is the real deal. And Paul is also reminded that this sincere faith in Timothy was planted there, and cultivated, by a woman named Eunice, who was Timothy’s mother.
For those of you who are Christians and are mothers, there is nothing that dwells in you that you hope dwells in your son or daughter more than your faith in Jesus – Not your abilities, not your talents, not your looks, not your personality, not your quirks, not your temperament, but your faith. You’d give anything for that to happen, and in fact, that’s exactly what you do. Motherhood is giving anything and everything for the eternal good of your children. Motherhood is a living death; it’s a dying life – a mother dies to herself that others, namely her children, might live.
Now, this should go without saying at this point – this is very hard work. And this is very painful work. A foolish son is sorrow to his mother (Proverbs 10:1).
Here is an excerpt from a letter Susanna wrote to her husband, Samuel, who, as best I can tell, was a dud. He was hardly there and when he was there, he wasn’t really there. She wrote the following to him:
“I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.”
Moms, you are a physical administrator (cleaning, clothing, designing, organizing) and you bare a spiritual administrator (demonstrating and declaring the gospel). You are building a home that physically and spiritually displays the glory of God. If you have little children, that’s a full time job. That’s work.
In conclusion of this sermon,
What about women who did not, or have not been able to, conceive and carry their own children? First let me remind you that there are many children who have been conceived, carried, and born, but desperately need a mother. Maybe you are God’s plan for one or more of those precious children. And second, remember everything we’ve talked about in this sermon series, and consider how you can be fruitful in an infinite number of other ways. The energy and heart you would have gladly given to a child may be given to others in need. Many of us, right now, can think of examples of women, without their own children, who had an immeasurable impact on you or others. (Amy Carmichael)
Be encouraged. I know that motherhood is not praised in our society. I know you get looks and comments. I want you to be encouraged in the trenches of motherhood. I don’t know if your husband praises you, he should. I don’t know if your children praise you, they should.
You understand that while the world looks for happiness through self-assertion, you look for happiness through self-abandonment. Matthew 10:39 says “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
This is what Charles Spurgeon had to say about his mother: “I cannot tell how much I owe the solemn words of my good mother. I remember on one occasion her praying thus: “Now Lord, if my children go on in their sins it will not be from ignorance that they perish and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” The thought of my mother bearing a swift witness against me pierced my conscience. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee and with her arms around my neck prayed “Oh that my son may live before thee.”
And in conclusion of this entire series,
I hope and pray every one of you ladies has gained clarity, gratitude, and confidence.
Femininity is a powerful force, which can be used for great good. Ladies, you are a powerful force. The extent of your influence is immeasurable. Think about the generations to come. Think about your influence on your own children and the children of others.
You have been made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. What brings God glory will bring your good; what brings God honor will bring you happiness. Surrendering to God is not like surrendering to an enemy where you’re worried about what they’re going to do to you. Surrendering to God is what you’ve been made to do.